COUNCILLORS this week approved plans for a £250million sustainable community proposed for land at the former RAF airbase at Edzell.
Members of the Kincardine and Mearns area committee gave the green light to the masterplan for Newesk, focused on its first two phases – including 300 residential properties, community facilities and employment land.
A report put before councillors said that the development would mean possible re-zoning for Luthermuir and Fettercairn Primaries, and a contribution would be given to Mearns Academy as well as to healthcare services in Laurencekirk.
The site has been previously used for military and commercial purposes over the past 65 years.
The airbase closed in 1996, at which time commercial uses commenced.
It covers more than 300 acres of land to the west of the main A90 Aberdeen to Dundee trunk road.
It is an important business location for south Aberdeenshire, with clients in the oilfield services supply chain, food and fuel industries located at the site.
Newesk, in its complete form, would cover the remaining 144 acres of land between the business base and the existing small community of Edzell Woods, delivering facilities including a new primary school, community hall, green space and local shops.
David Carnegie, a partner in Carnegie Base Services, said the decision was a vindication for more than a decade’s hard work by his family, and the team of planning specialists and consultants who have brought the Newesk proposal to life.
“We are obviously very pleased by the decision – our over-arching focus remains the long-term creation of a thriving rural community at Newesk, encompassing all six phases of development which make up the full masterplan for the land,” he says.
“Elected members showed a real understanding of the issues, and an appreciation of the work we have done to ensure that the community has had a chance to have their say on our plans and to input into the masterplan.
“Delivering Newesk will provide a tremendous boost to the local area in terms of providing much-needed facilities, employment opportunities and infrastructure improvements, including investment in local roads and other vital resources.
“Our focus now is on securing approval for the full masterplan for Newesk, as part of the ongoing development of the local plan for Aberdeenshire.”
If fully developed, Newesk has the potential to deliver up to 1,000 jobs, and provide up to 1,000 high quality properties in a region which is one of the most sought-after destinations to live in the UK.
The meeting heard from Linda Wilson, who is the Chairperson of the Edzell Woods owners group, who said that drainage problems at the site would need to be addressed.
Speaking at the meeting, Mearns Councillor George Carr said: “This is a landmark application. At the time of adopting the Local Development Plan we spent a long time discussing the historical problems at Edzell Woods.
“We have a moral responsibility take this forward. This application would help to solve problems in relation to waste water - there is a long way to go, but this could be the start of he solution.
“Some might say it’s an isolated location, but that is characteristic of the Mearns. It is made up of rural communities, and that is why people like living there.
“It will bring additional benefits to the Edzell Woods community, with amenities and facilities. I look forward to a very interesting development at the former Edzell base.”
Councillors unanimously agreed to grant the application.